A search term is entered into a search engine to conduct a search. It could be a string of words or in the form of a question. ‘Web search query’ is used to mean the same thing.
On a computer, tablet or smart phone we input a search term on a search engine like Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, using the search field.
A virtual assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Home can also be used to search, using voice. Alexa uses Bing for its searches, and Google Home uses Google search.
Every day trillions of web search queries are made. Think how many times you’ve made a search yourself and then times that by a billion. It is mind boggling.
Search terms and business websites
One of the many goals of a business website owner is that a website appears on the first page of the search results. At least for some search terms within the industry.
We do this using a key term or key phrase that we use on a web page to shape the page, targeting a search term.
Chosen keywords would be used within meta-tags that are within the code of the page. You can’t usually see them.
So you see, a search term and a key term are really quite similar. We just use one to describe the action a user takes on a search engine and one to refer to the designated topic of a post or page.